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Trouble in the Panhandle: NCAA Brings Hammer Down on Florida State Football Program with Two-Year Probation for NIL Violations

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In a turbulent turn of events, the Florida State Football program, led by head coach Mike Norvell, faces severe penalties imposed by the NCAA for significant NIL-related recruiting infractions. The distress, compounded by the team’s exclusion from this year’s college football playoff, continues to plague them into the new year.

Offensive coordinator Alex Atkins is found guilty of two Level II violations involving impermissible recruiting activity and unauthorized contact with an NIL-related booster. Atkins allegedly facilitated a meeting where a booster from Rising Spear, the school’s NIL collective, offered an NIL opportunity of approximately $15,000 per month to a prospect during their first year at the school. The prospect in question was Georgia offensive lineman Amarius Mims.

Penalties for Alex Atkins include a three-game suspension at the start of the 2024 regular season, a two-year show-cause order, and disassociation from Rising Spear for three years. Additionally, FSU will disassociate from Rising Spear for one year, with no contribution to the athletic program. Financial penalties for Atkins amount to a $5,000 fine, 1% of the football budget, a 5% reduction in football scholarships over two years, and various recruiting restrictions.

Mark Hicks, the NCAA’s enforcement managing director for development, emphasized the focus on “tampering and inducements” related to NIL, revealing evidence of recruiting rules violations through text messages. While shedding light on the murky nature of NCAA’s NIL rules, these penalties highlight the frustration in college athletics regarding the lack of infractions cases related to violations.

Florida State’s challenges extend beyond this incident, including their exclusion from the recent College Football Playoff and a legal challenge against the ACC’s grant of rights. As the NCAA investigation unfolds, questions arise about the impact on Coach Mike Norvell’s candidacy for Alabama’s coaching search, although individual sanctions are not expected.

Florida State officials and NCAA leaders have refrained from commenting on the matter, leaving room for speculation and continued scrutiny over the evolving landscape of athlete compensation.

The Florida State Football Program faces a myriad of infractions stemming from NIL violations, resulting in unprecedented penalties from the NCAA. The extensive list of infractions and corresponding penalties includes:

·  The football program will be placed under probationary status for a two-year period.

·  Two-year show-cause order for assistant coach Alex Atkins: Atkins faces a suspension from the next three regular-season games, a two-week restriction on recruiting communication, and mandatory attendance at an NCAA Regional Rules Seminar.

·  Restriction from off-campus recruiting during Fall 2024: Assistant coach Alex Atkins is prohibited from engaging in off-campus recruiting activities during the specified period.

·  Three-year disassociation from the booster: Florida State must sever ties with the booster involved in the infractions for a three-year duration.

·  One-year disassociation from the collective (Rising Spear): The program is required to dissociate from its NIL collective for one year, with no contribution to the athletic program allowed during this period.

·  $5,000 fine plus 1% of the football budget: A financial penalty is imposed on the athletic department, comprising a $5,000 fine and 1% of the football budget. For example, in 2017, that fine would have been worth $424,600, according to ACCSports.com.

·  5% reduction in football scholarships over two years: The program faces a reduction in football scholarships amounting to a total of five scholarships over the two-year probationary period.

·  Reduction in official (paid) visits for the 2023-24 academic year: Seven official visits are deducted, and the school cannot roll over six unused official visits from the previous academic year.

·  Reduction in football recruiting communications: A total of six weeks of reduced communication during the 2023-24 and 2024-25 academic years.

·  Reduction in in-person recruiting days for the 2023-24 academic year: Six evaluation days during the fall of 2024 and 18 evaluation days during the spring of 2024 are subtracted from the program’s recruiting activities.

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